A group led by the Hindu extremist leaders raids a peaceful prayer meeting of Pentecostals. The police intervene and arrest the pastors on charges of forced conversions. In the populous state violence against Christians is on the rise.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Police have arrested three pastors of a Pentecostal group, the Gospel Messengers Team (GMT) and the couple who hosted them: the episode occurred on July 13 in Bighapur, Unna district in Uttar Pradesh, on false charges of having tried to convert people of other religions, even by force.
On the morning of July 13 about 150 faithful gathered at the house of Om Prakash for the regular weekly prayer, led by pastors AB Singh, Ganga Prasad and Robert of GMT.
At about 11, about 75 people led by Himesh Dixit, Subhash Bajpai and Chinh Patel, known leaders of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), raided the meeting and threatened all those present. They falsely charged the pastors of having forcibly converted people to Christianity and of paying those present to attend. They were warned not to continue their ministry in the city.
After a short time the police arrived, taking away Prakkash Om, his wife and 3 pastors, accusing them of forced conversions and other crimes.
Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council for Indian Christians (GCIC), speaking to AsiaNews has expressed "concern about the situation, law and order is deteriorating, the minority Christian community is facing the wrath of fanatical extremists, both the police themselves. These are symptoms of a [state] failure. "
Il Gcic ha subito fornito assistenza legale agli arrestati, mentre centinaia di sostenitori si sono recati alla stazione di polizia per proclamarne l’innocenza. La polizia ha promesso il rilascio degli arrestati entro la stessa sera.
The GCIC has provided legal assistance to arrested, while hundreds of supporters went to the police station to proclaim their innocence. The police promised the release of those arrested later the same evening.
"This - Sajan continues - is the 2nd attack in Uttar Pradesh [against Christians] in July, after the July 3 in Mainpuri where the Pentecostal pastor John C.V. Samuel, of the Assembly of God Church, received the false accusation of making a forced conversion and was beaten just because he took part in the funeral service of Christian Anil Safena who had committed suicide [see AsiaNews 11.7.2001, Andhra Pradesh, Pentecostal pastor stabbed. GCIC: The state is "complicit"
] . Samuel has also been accused of having caused the death of Anil and was badly beaten, as well as his wife. Only the intervention of the police prevented more serious injuries. Dalit Chief Minister [Uttar Pradesh] can not protect minorities and this cowardly violence also affects the wives of pastors. "